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On the January 3 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, guest Mike Allen, White House correspondent for Time magazine, said that voters "want someone who is honest" to be president of the United States, and added, "It's why people in the past have liked Senator John McCain [R-AZ]: authenticity." As Media Matters for America has noted, McCain has equivocated on many issues over the years, including ethanol, the Iraq war, tax cuts for the wealthy, abortion, the Confederate flag, detainee abuse, and abortion rights (see here, here, and here). Nonetheless, he is frequently characterized as -- in addition to authentic -- a "straight-talker," and "honest," as Media Matters has also pointed out.
Allen also said that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) "looks like a president" and would be "the obvious front-runner" if he were not a Mormon. Additionally, Allen baselessly claimed that "if evangelical leaders can put the Mormonism aside, it is just possible that Mitt Romney will take off like Glenn Beck's ratings." In fact, other challenges for Romney have recently surfaced. According to a December 21 article in The Washington Post, Romney, while challenging Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D) for his Massachusetts Senate seat in 1994, "boasted that he would be more effective in fighting discrimination against gay men and lesbians" than Kennedy. During that campaign, Romney also "distanced himself from some conservative policies of the Reagan administration, and proudly recalled his family's record in support of abortion rights," according to the Post. However, that article also noted that Romney's positions had shifted dramatically as he prepared for the 2008 presidential race, saying that he "has championed the conservative principles that guided President Ronald Reagan, become an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and supported overturning the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion." Additionally, as reported by The Boston Globe, Romney's property in Massachusetts was maintained by at least one undocumented worker on and off over a period of eight years. Meanwhile, the Globe noted, "As Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration."
During the same segment in which Allen appeared, Beck referred to former Democratic senator and recently announced presidential candidate John Edwards as "the Andy Griffith of politics" and called Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) a "Gollum look-alike," while characterizing exploratory committees set up by two Republicans, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Romney, as "foreplay to get us in the mood before they announce their candidacy."
Additionally, in the lead-in to the segment with Allen, Beck aired a clip from his radio program in which he said Jesus will return "to split the mountains and appear in the skies, and everybody on earth is supposed to be able to see him," and that liberals would respond by forming "a committee on the environmental damage of splitting that mountain."
From the January 3 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: A full 25 percent of Americans believe that Jesus is going to return this year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I'm him, I'm coming back as a guy who's like a crazy homeless person with "the end is near" sign on me, because nobody would see that coming.
BECK: Jesus is supposed to split the mountains and appear in the skies, and everybody on earth is supposed to be able to see him. OK, that's pretty amazing.
However, in the thousand-year reign of, you know, Jesus comes down and he reigns here on earth for 1,000 years, and it's a 1,000 years to be -- not everybody is immediately Christian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate to bring it back to politics, Glenn. But I mean, that is what the liberals do. I mean, they'll want committees to investigate all these things.
BECK: They'll -- you know what? They'll want a committee on the environmental damage of splitting that mountain.
BECK: Let me ask you a question. Wasn't it about six weeks ago that we finally made it through the midterm election season and the media blitz that went along with it?
Well, good news. It's about to start all over again. This time, we're not just talking about Congress. Oh, no, come November -- actually, no a year from November, we'll be choosing a new president, and the democratic process is already gearing up.
We've got the old favorites who have announced their candidacy, like John Edwards, the Andy Griffith of politics. The Gollum look-alike that is Dennis Kucinich, he's announced. Then there's those like Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, who set up an exploratory committee, which is kind of foreplay to get us in the mood before they announce their candidacy.
Finally, there are those like [Sens.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] and Barack Obama [D-IL] who haven't even set up an exploratory committee, yet everybody in the media is talking about the odds of them winning the election almost on a daily basis. It's enough to put a gun in your mouth.
The table of fun is, yes, kids, being set for the 2008 election. And I don't know about you, but I'm already full.
Let's see what Mike Allen has to say about it. He's the White House correspondent for Time magazine.
Mike, is it too soon for me to be really sick of this horse race?
ALLEN: No, of course not, especially if you think of it as a horse race. But if you think of it -- of the very mystical, magical, fascinating, expensive process by which people choose a president, it's interesting indeed.
And you're right. This is the month. It's gearing up. People are opening offices. People -- young people who worked in the '06 campaigns are going to work on the '08 campaigns. And you're already seeing the campaigns going at it a bit on the phones and in the press.
BECK: OK. Let's go through a few of the candidates real quick and just see who's -- are any of these people even going to be standing in 12 months, let alone 18?
ALLEN: Are we going to be standing in 12 months? That's a big question.
BECK: I don't think so. I know.
OK, you've got Mitt Romney. Exploratory committee today. The guy is LDS [Latter-Day Saint]. He's a Mormon. Is this going to hurt him, or will he -- will he survive?
ALLEN: Well, Glenn, that is one of the most fascinating questions in politics. But I can tell you, Republicans who are trying to pick a horse -- these are the big donors, the operatives -- are very interested in this question.
And they say that if it weren't for that, he would be the obvious front-runner, the person to jump on with. He looks like a president. He ran -- runs his company very well. He ran the '02 Olympics very well. And the question is, will this be a hurdle?
Glenn, I can tell you that I've talked to a number of evangelical leaders who do not think that this is going to be a problem. And if evangelical leaders can put the Mormonism aside, it is just possible that Mitt Romney will take off like Glenn Beck's ratings.
ALLEN: And I can tell you he's getting a good share, more than his share, of the Bush-Cheney team.
BECK: OK. Now, Barack Obama. This one kills me, because Barack Obama -- there was a story in a Washington paper today about how --
ALLEN: A Washington paper? The Washington Post. Just say it, Glenn.
BECK: I couldn't remember if it was the Times or the Post. So he's in the Post. Eleven years ago, he wrote this book and he said that he had done drugs, he had done alcohol, pot, and cocaine.
And people were saying, "Well, I don't know. That might hurt his chances."
And I'm thinking, no, Mitt Romney being a Mormon will hurt his chances. Somebody doing drugs? That'll help your chances in America. This is actually a good thing to many people, is it not, that he conquered something and did something with his life?
ALLEN: Well, Glenn, that's an interesting way to look at it. I think it's helpful, but for a different reason. And that is, I think that people want someone who's honest, candid. They're tired of the pablum.
Here's somebody who said that he was a junkie. I think that people will appreciate that.
ALLEN: It's why people in the past have liked Senator John McCain. Authenticity. After '06, people are going to want somebody who seems real.
BECK: You're exactly right. And that's why, when I was on the radio show today, I said I think this is what makes him a front-runner in front of Hillary Clinton, because Hillary Clinton is this machine.
She's still trying to identify herself, where her husband seemed real. He seemed like a guy that you could hang out with. Like his politics, hate his politics, take a lot of penicillin, be around him.
But you could hang around the guy and have a normal conversation. I don't feel the same way about his wife. And Barack Obama seems to be that kind of guy, where he's just like, "Hey, like it or not, here's who I am."
ALLEN: Well, Glenn, let me say I don't think that you are Senator Clinton's market. Let's just face that fact.
BECK: Yeah, I'm pretty sure of that one.
ALLEN: Senator Clinton is going to run on the idea of mission. That is, in the Senate, she's worked very hard. She's done the workhorse as opposed to show-horse thing.
Her family name, just like the Bush family name, stands for something. Her name stands for something. And so there is no question a slice of America that will always be for her.
But I can tell you that Republicans we talked to say there's nothing that would galvanize them faster.
ALLEN: They may be unexcited about these candidates. They may be disappointed in the president, but boy, a Senator Clinton candidacy, they would be right back on the team.
BECK: OK, 30 seconds. I only have 30 seconds. Rudy Giuliani, same kind of story with, you know, a bad past as Barack Obama, but not so much. Here he leaves his playbook out. He talks about his three wives, and two of them are going to come after him, et cetera, et cetera.
Is this guy winnable in America with his past?
ALLEN: Well, of course, Glenn. And I look at Mayor Giuliani as a test of the proposition that 9-11 has changed everything. You go back a couple years, of course, someone with some of those issues probably wouldn't do well in the Republican primary.
But you look at what Americans are concerned about now, you look at somebody who can lead, who can get things done, who has this record, who has someone you can point to, he can show a picture of Times Square, that may be exactly what people are looking for and that may be overcomeable.
BECK: Mike, thank you very much.